Wiley Padden was headed home from a night out singing karaoke when a pickup truck struck him, then drove off.
Padden's aunt, Penni Giles, said the 28-year-old was just blocks from his home when he was killed in last week's hit-and-run near State and Collister streets.
"He didn't have a car, so he always walked," Giles said.
A service for Padden was held Friday.
Padden served in the U.S. Army as an artillery crewman during 2007 and 2008. But his dream was to become a professional wrestler, Giles said.
"He was looking into where he could go and train," she said.
She said in addition to his love of karaoke, Padden enjoyed video games and the card game Hand and Foot.
"He loved to bowl," she said. "His dad is really good at bowling. He was raised with bowling.
"He was just a simple person," Giles said. "He had an infectious smile, a kind heart."
The man accused of hitting Padden and driving away turned himself in to police two days after Padden's death. Adam Weinert, 24, faces a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury or death.
Witnesses told police that they saw Weinert stop his truck, get out and look at Padden's body in the road before fleeing the scene.
Weinert's next court date will be a preliminary hearing Oct. 21. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
Padden was hit at about 1:15 a.m., but his family did not learn of his death until later that morning. Giles said Padden's mother, Cathey Tuller, received the call from the coroner.
Giles said she hoped people would remember Padden's kindness and his devotion to those he cared for.
"He had a heart of gold," she said. "He just thought the world of family."
Katie Terhune: 377-6219